School districts around the country are being squeezed as budgets shrink, triggering newspapers to run sympathetic stories on the problem, notes Grumpy Editor.
An example of “crowded classrooms” was spotlighted this week as the Las Vegas Review-Journal ran the first in a series that will span three weeks, focusing on the Clark County School District, the nation’s fifth largest.
The series kicked off with the headline CROWDED CLASSROOMS in capital letters across the front page, above the fold. Subhead read: “As budgets shrink, class sizes grow.”
It all sounded pretty dire, a reader pointed out, until reaching an inside page where, tucked away in the second paragraph, was "Officials expect to raise the average class size in grades 6-12 from 32 students to 34."
No mention was made that in belt-tightening times, two more students shouldn’t create a hardship. Also, figuring two or four absences per class bring the total to about unchanged or below average class size.
The story did not indicate total enrollment (latest figure: 312,761 in 2009).
With Las Vegas ranked as the U.S. home foreclosure capital, school attendance likely has decreased from one and two years ago as parents during the recession were forced to relocate to other states in search of jobs.
Also forgotten: In good times, when money was no object and hefty property tax funds were rolling in, the school district went on an expansion spree, complete with planting of expensive mature palm trees in school parking lots.